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Showing posts from September 3, 2023

a man with back pain speaks - or the poetry of the Ouch

  Should a man with back pain read the Philosophical Investigations? I’m the man with back pain in this question. Last Saturday, due to some untoward twist of my posture, I think – I am not certain of this, I have a vague sense of the cause that is mixed up with a vague and exasperated sense of the unfairness of it all – I suddenly got a pain in my back that quickly spread. Lumbago, a word that, like abracadabra, gives us a spell rather than an exact name for the event, is what we all call it. It is my excuse: I say I have lumbago and I can’t do such and such. Although, unlike many of the excuses I make, “can” here is pretty exact: My pain threshold gets passed pretty quickly if, for instance, I walk more than a block or so.   Famously, Wittgenstein took up the question of “inner sensations” in what is called the Private Language section of the Philosophical Investigations. Wittgenstein lived in England, and the English tradition of reflection typically took pain examples from the

cioran's style

  Unlike, say, happiness or sadness, despair doesn’t easily select, among a repertoire of performances, those which express its substance – or rather, its tone. The attraction, such as it is, of Cioran’s work is that here, one feels, despair gets free play. Massively, in fact. In his essays, the absence of act that characterises despair, its sunken violence – for despair, as Cioran sees it, is the child of a precedent and excessive violence – becomes the substance of the text, and as such fights a rearguard action with its very motive. If despair cuts us off from motive itself, it seems to remove at the same time its elemental right as a mood. This isn’t a matter of auto-erasure, as it is about the futility of all marks. Cioran started out as an intellectual as a Romanian fascist: this is the point from which, whether overtly or implicitly, he always start in his subsequent writings. It is the image of that intellectual madness that haunts him. He was cured of this set of beliefs/pre